India Alliance celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science
20 Feb 2019
On 11th February 2019, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance (henceforth, India Alliance) celebrated the achievements of women, both known and unknown, who have given the girls of today an opportunity to be able to choose role models in science.
Like every other field, science is too not immune to ‘inequality’. Data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women. UNESCO reports that only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. It is therefore not surprising that this gender bias is reflected on screen with the 2015 Gender Bias without Borders study reporting that only 12 percent of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job were women.
There is an urgent need to close this very evident gender gap in STEM and promote gender equality in STEM careers. The voice of women and girls, in addition to that of men and boys, in science, technology, and innovation is critical to designing solutions and meeting challenges of our ever-changing world.
To achieve equal access to and participation in science for women and girls and to help achieve the goal of gender equality, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The India Alliance, with a commitment to encourage diversity and inclusivity in the Indian research ecosystem, celebrated this day by hosting public talks at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, New Delhi. In a house full of young minds buzzing with energy, our ‘women in science’ spoke about their science and their journeys as scientists.
Prof. Srubabti Goswami, a phenomenologist at Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad, spoke on her study of fundamental particles, especially neutrinos, which make up the universe and how they interact. Computational structural biologist at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Dr Lipi Thukral, took the audience through her academic journey, busting myths about the life of a scientist along the way. While Lipi spoke about her experiences through the lens of a laboratory, Dr Orus Ilyas, a wildlife researcher at the Aligarh Muslim University, shared how her work on ecology and conservation of the musk deer took her to the wilderness. Dr Nandini C Singh, a cognitive neuroscientist at UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, concluded the talks with an engaging account of what goes on in our brains in the context of multilingualism, learning disorders, emotions, and music.
‘Women in Science’ speakers (in the order of their mention) at the celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science
To make the ‘women in science’ more visible, the India Alliance supported ‘The Life of Science’ in their very successful endeavour: The 2019 Women in Science calendar. This calendar, which features thirteen scientists and their contribution to science in India, was released at this event. It is important that both girls and boys have role models to help them see that they can pursue education or careers that may not be perceived as appropriate for their gender by society. Every celebration of a day for ‘women in science’ is a step towards having more role models, inspiring the young, and closing the gender gap.
The release of the 2nd ‘Women in Science’ calendar, an initiative of the Life of Science supported by the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance